Living in Society

O’Malley in Mount Vernon in Caucus Season

Listening to Martin O'Malley in Mount Vernon
Listening to Martin O’Malley in Mount Vernon Photo Credit O’Malley Campaign

MOUNT VERNON—In his family’s modest living room, Nate Willems introduced former governor Martin O’Malley to about 75 guests on Thursday.

O’Malley announced for president May 30 and was a regular presence in Iowa during the run up to the 2014 midterm elections. Because of that, Democratic activists are sympathetic to his message and polite. Not a lot signed support cards at the end of last night’s speech. It may be too early for that.

The message was about O’Malley’s 15 years of executive public service as mayor of Baltimore, Maryland from 1999 until 2007, then as governor until January 2015. Among his twitter hashtags is #newleadership, presumably differentiating himself from the Clinton/Bush dynasties. He was concise and repeated those points during the house party.

In my April 11 post I asserted, “O’Malley is a story teller. Will we like the narrative?” That observation was borne out last night.

O’Malley stumped on core Democratic issues, similar to the April speech. It’s hard to find fault with his broad positions. On climate change, I don’t like the narrative.

An audience member asked O’Malley what he would do as president about CO2 and methane emissions. The answer to this is easy. President Obama presented the U.S. plan for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or 21st Conference of the Parties in Paris this December. The U.S. plan relies upon the Clean Power Plan advanced by the Environmental Protection Agency for most of the proposed reductions. All O’Malley had to say was, “I support the Clean Power Plan” to satisfy climate voters. He didn’t.

Instead of a simple answer, he changed the question to one about “climate change.” He enumerated 15 things he did as governor to address climate change. It was an admirable punch list, but reducing CO2 and methane emissions is not the same thing. He missed the point of the question.

His brief statement on the campaign website did not provide much depth either:

Launch a Jobs Agenda for the Climate Challenge

Clean, renewable sources of energy represent one of the biggest economic opportunities in a century. And the threat of climate change is real and immediate. We must make better choices for a more secure and independent energy future—by limiting carbon emissions, setting renewable energy targets, driving innovation, seeding new industries, and creating good local jobs.

My take away from the event is that before I sign an O’Malley card for the February caucus, I need to get beyond the superficial narrative created for the campaign. Not just about climate change, but about each of his positions. This is Iowa, so that’s possible.

Some of my regular political companions were dismissive of O’Malley last night. I’m not ready to cast aside any of the five in the game at this point.

Political Miscellany

For the first time I interacted with a candidate’s D.C. staff via twitter. I posted this message:

A DC campaign staffer sent me this email after that post:

“You should go see O’Malley! Saw your tweet. You might like him.”

I gave the staffer a shout out on twitter:

Haley Morris, O’Malley’s national press secretary, liked my tweet.

While I was at the house party, first congressional district Democratic candidate Monica Vernon called. It was very noisy, so I explained I didn’t have money to donate, and when she was still interested in talking to me, asked her to call back in an hour after the O’Malley event.

I called her and we talked about ways I could help her campaign, even though I live in the second district. Of the three Democrats in that primary, she seems to be the only one really working.

I track how many views each post gets when I am live tweeting an event. It tells me whether or not there is an audience. Curiously, the following tweet had not been viewed by anyone. Could that mean someone is moderating the twitter without us knowing and behind the scenes?

Finally, I appear in the right side of the frame of the photo above. The women who took it almost knocked a lamp over getting into position with me behind the Willems’ couch. Note my ear seems very large compared to the image of the candidate. At least with that big ear I was listening.

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